Second Annual Banana Festival
Image by: David Alvarez
William Land Park hosted this year’s banana festival. Thousands attended the event that promoted health and community awareness.
The festival celebrated everything having to do with bananas and it was a great family event. Cultures that traditionally use bananas were also celebrated. These included Central and Eastern Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands and other countries.
Vendors sold delicious international food specializing in banana recipes. Two stages were set up to accommodate all the acts performing on August 13 and 14. One of the stages was the children’s corner and a large play area with carnival rides and games was available for children.
Superhero Banana Splitacular also roamed the grounds and acted on many distress calls, mostly by emcees asking for his help. Banana Splitacular entertained and posed for photos with small children.
Several activities were organized to entertain kids and for the most part, they entertained themselves with hula hoops, paper mache activities, limbo and dance, as well as banana and ice cream eating contests.
When I arrived at the banana festival, I made my way over to the food court and looked for some banana treats. Banana chips and lumpias are my favorite and I found them to be quite delicious.
I sat down and watched Samoria Lamuse imitate the "Creole Goddess," Josephine Baker. Lamuse made crowd participation part of her act and was able to get volunteers when she needed them.
After a little limbering up, the Beatles’, “Rock and Roll Music,” played as everyone danced onstage. Many others on the grounds began to dance as well.
Lamuse gave away, besides straw hats for volunteers, gifts for the participants. As she gave out the last one, Lamuse explained that she gives back in the spirit of Josephine Baker, who “gave back by adopting 12 children.”
Next to the stage, a banana split eating contest produced several contestants who enjoyed every bite of that treat.
The Filipino Dance group Sinag-tala brought several colorful and ethnic dances to the stage. Dancers of all ages entertained onlookers as they wore traditional Filipino costumes and shared their culture with the audience. The group also had crowd participation as part of their act.
A butterfly dance initiated their entertainment. Sinag-tala played, “Paru-parong Bukid,” a Filipino folk song and dancers danced to the traditional song. A fiesta performance followed with colorfully dressed dancers on stage.
The “Itik-itik” (duck) song and dance was performed with several young members of the duck family moving to the stage. The little ducklings, several older sisters and mama duck, all dressed in yellow, performed the dance. Several traditional Filipino musical instruments were used along with the dances.
The Sinag-tala music and dance entertainment concluded with “tinikling” dancing. They began by asking for volunteers to come up and learn the “bamboo dance,” and once again the dancing banana volunteered. Sinag-tala has several performances scheduled for December 2 to December 4 at the Luther Burbank Auditorium.
Several trips were given away in a raffle and the lucky winners were able to select from several trips provided by Cuisine Noir Magazine and Sky Resort. Laura Scott was one of those winners and you could hear her screams of joy coming from the vendor area.
The Patrick Reilly Band played several songs on the main stage and attracted a crowd as well.
I walked around the food vendors once again and noticed many banana items for sale; fresh bananas, fried plantains, banana crepes, cotton candy, green banana ice tea, snow cones, smoothies, taffy, banana splits, pies, cookies, pudding, tempura, popcorn and many other edibles that used bananas as the main ingredient. The banana burger was a hit but I did not get a chance to try one.
A 1951 banana taxi, banana hats, merchandise and other things banana were also available. There was even a Banana Queen. Marisa Adams was the 2011 Festival Queen.
Next to the main stage, renowned chef Tyler Stone created some wonderful treats and a line was always present. Chef Stone gave many samples of his frozen banana mousse pop treats that were dipped in chocolate.
Later in the day, One Leg Chuck from Manteca took the stage to perform a few songs after another raffle winner was announced.
Over on the children’s stage, parents were able to sign up their kids to participate in a banana festival pageant. Contestants were eligible for awards in several categories.
To the delight of youngsters sitting around the stage, several stories were brought to life as volunteers acted out readings as part of the Angela James Fenix Dance Storytelling.
A seven day vacation to Belize was the last raffle of the event and it looks like I will be going to Belize. I will have to go after I save some money because, sadly, I did not win the drawing.
Princess Sanders was one of the last scheduled performers to take the children’s stage. Before Sanders' performance, a hip-hop dance recital was performed by a talented young lady. An even younger child then took the stage and did an outstanding job with her own solo dance. The child had moves and danced like a seasoned veteran, like a baby Beyoncé. As Princess Sanders took the stage, her stage presence and voice were superb.
Back at the main stage, the Brazilian dance and drum group Samba Da Terra performed and had many people onstage dancing with them. The colorful outfits attracted as much attention as the dancers.
The Sacramento grown hip-hop group, Project, was the last performer of the day. The four member group performed several songs and announced that their first EP was available for download.
As the Second Annual Banana Festival came to an end, the 1000 pounds of fruit that had been behind the stage was given away. Attendees lined up to get bananas and other tropical fruit to take home.
The fun was not over, however; People that purchased tickets to the festival could go over to Fairytale Town and receive a 50 percent discount to the park.
The festival was once again a great success. Over 100 volunteers and organizers made this a very enjoyable event.